Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Oct 04, 2002
Columns - Slowburn
President of the World
Timeri N. Murari
I HAD a call the other day from President George W. Bush (Jnr) inviting me to the White House. As he was desperately trying to round up support for his "Let's bomb Iraq'' campaign, he thought my opinion would swing the vote in his favour at the UN.
"Do you believe I should bomb Iraq?'' he asked me, even before I had a chance to sip my tepid White House coffee in the Oval Office. "Yes, definitely,'' I said, quick off the mark, wanting him to sanction a few billion dollars in my direction to re-build my aquarium. "You cannot afford to lose momentum. You have just bombed Afghanistan back to the Neanderthal age and if you do not bomb Iraq, all your missiles, fighter-jets, destroyers and aircraft-carriers will get rusty. Then the whole war machine will come to a grinding halt and the armament industry in the US will go into bankruptcy. Workers will be fired and you won't get their votes in the next month's election. Then, the CEOs will lose their annual billion dollar bonuses and not donate a nickel to your re-election campaign.''
"That is exactly the kind of logical thinking I love to hear,'' Mr Bush said, giving me a Texas bear hug. "No one else understands the problems I face as President of the World. I spend sleepless nights figuring out who to bomb. I just cannot afford to take the chance that one of you guys out there does not love the American way of life, the American love of freedom to bomb, the American know-how to bomb. You gotta see the world through our eyes to understand the inherent dangers out there for us Americans. Any one of you guys could be planning to target us next, so we Americans have to be one step ahead and bomb the hell out of you before you can even figure out how you are gonna attack us.''
"Would it not be simpler to work out your bombing campaign alphabetically. I mean you Americans jump all over the alphabet, no logic at all, and this makes the rest of us very nervous.'' Of course, I should not have said that as I should have known that Bush Jr., like Bush Sr., is dyslexic.
"Of course, I'm bombing alphabetically. After a `V' comes an `A'.'' He paused and mentally struggled through the alphabet.
"No, no. After `V' you went to bomb the hell out of `B'. Then you jumped to `A'. You are going all over the map. But now that you have started at `A' you should follow the alphabet, so we all know when to get the hell out of our countries.''
"What comes after `A'?''
"Well, there are a few `As' left. There is Andorra, Australia, Austria.'' "Never heard of them places,'' Mr Bush said, frowning but then smiling. "I think that is a great idea. As President of the World I will go down in history, American history I should add, as a logical president.''
He immediately called up his Secretary of Defence and Attack, Mr Donald Rumsfeld, to discuss this new angle on bombing places. Mr Rumsfeld thought it a brilliant idea as he too was brooding over who to bomb in his `A' list of countries.
The Prez turned to me after his call. "Don says that the next `A' on our list should be Arabia.''
"Well, there is no Arabia as such. There is Saudi Arabia but that starts with an `S'.'' He became very cross, giving me his cowboy squint when he talks about `Dead or Alive' and `Hang 'em High'. "Listen, you are just bringing up minor details. So, an `S' is in front. We will blow that away and we will have an `A'. Right?'' He made a note on his pad Arabia next.
"What about collateral damage?'' I asked politely, as Americans hate killing innocent people and prefer to refer to those dead as collateral damage. "Hey, listen, when I was on the board of Harken Energy and my dad, god bless his soul, got me that job, we did not worry about collateral damage. As long as we board members were okay and making our billions, collateral damage was part of the great capitalist package. So a few thousand people were fired and had to find new jobs. It is not our problem, it is theirs.''
"But in collateral damage people get dead so they cannot find new jobs.'' "See,'' the Prez said triumphantly.
"That is even better than getting fired and staying alive and all that hassle of jobs, money, food, kids are not around any more.'' He leant over with compassion printed all over his face in italic type.
"Listen, I know what you are saying. People might be killed when we bomb whoever we are gonna bomb but you gotta understand that as long as they are not American people, it is okay by me. I mean that is possibly, one or 10,000 less terrorists to threaten the great American way of life. I want you to know, that as President of the World, all you people are totally inferior to us Americans.''
The Prez walked me out of the Oval Office, his arm around my shoulder. `Y'know, in an ideal world, we Americans would prefer that you guys out there were not around at all. No offence meant.''
"And we feel the same about you, Mr Prez,'' I said and waved goodbye.
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